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Orange County’s dominant office landlord and the area’s most active office developer over the past four years isn’t resting on its laurels, with both a ground-up development and a creative-office renovation project in the works.

Irvine Co. recently broke ground on four midrise office projects on Sand Canyon Avenue, about a mile from its Irvine Spectrum Center shopping center. 

The office project, called the Quad at Discovery Business Center, will total about 370,000 square feet in a mix of three- and four-story buildings.

The project is just south of the Santa Ana (5) Freeway and should be completed in about a year, according to Tom Greubel, vice president of leasing for Irvine Co.’s office division.

“We want to deliver a complete project,” Greubel said. The individual buildings should be finished within a few weeks of each other.

The for-lease project is being built on a speculative basis, but there have already been “a couple proposals” for tenants to take up a good portion of the campus, according to Steve Case, executive vice president for Irvine Co.’s office division.

The Quad marks the latest new office project in OC for Newport Beach-based Irvine Co., which ranked No. 4 on this week’s Business Journal list of commercial developers, with 211,000 square feet of office space completed in the past year.

That square footage was for a different pair of midrise offices it owns a few blocks away at its Sand Canyon Business Center. The just-built four-story offices are already about 70% leased, with Cavium Inc. and AutoGravity the largest tenants signed. 

Over the past four years, Irvine Co. has built 1.2 million square feet of office space in OC, including a pair of towers in Newport Center and a 21-story tower in the Irvine Spectrum.

A second Spectrum-area tower, the 400 Spectrum Center, will open in a few months. The 425,000-square-foot building, which along with its sister 200 Spectrum tower is OC’s tallest office, is about 38% preleased.

The Business Journal reported last month that security software maker Cylance Inc. completed a deal to lease about 134,000 square feet at the soon-to-open tower for its new headquarters,

The Irvine Co.’s recent strong leasing activity in the Spectrum area, and projections for steady job growth in the area, prompted it to move ahead with construction on the Quad project, Case said.

“We think the demand is there.”

 Plans for the Quad were first announced in mid-2015, along with the two just-built Sand Canyon Business Center offices. Irvine Co. opted to build the latter offices first, and has tweaked design plans, including more indoor-outdoor spaces, Greubel said.

The developer calls the building style for the midrise offices NextGen, featuring tenant-friendly amenities and cutting-edge architecture.


Ready to Launch

Irvine Co.’s latest batch of ground-up office development shares several attributes in common with the area’s numerous creative-office redevelopment projects—abundant on-site perks like fitness centers and food operations, natural lighting, open floor plans, and other tenant-friendly features.

For a smaller office project it owns across the street from John Wayne Airport, Irvine Co. is planning its own version of creative-office redevelopment.

Airport Business Center, a four-building site at the intersection of Michelson Drive and MacArthur Boulevard, is about to get revamped as The Launch.

The four-story offices at the project, originally designed by Los Angeles architect Craig Ellwood in the 1970s, will be transformed into what the landlord calls a “highly efficient work environment,” with some of the space geared for startup and fast-growth companies.

“We’ve learned that growth companies view real estate as an asset and extension of their brands, a critical and valuable tool to help them recruit and retain talent in today’s tight job market,” Case said.

In addition to renovating the 130,000 square feet of office and lobby space, the project’s exterior will be spruced up with outdoor workspaces in line with those at some of Irvine Co.’s newer properties.

“We’re giving it a more creative flair,” Case said. 

Existing tenants at one of the project’s two four-story buildings have already moved out in anticipation of the project, which will be completed by the end of the year.

The tenants at the two one-story buildings, Bank of America and Union Bank, are remaining.

Case said Irvine Co. is considering similar renovations of other older office properties it owns, including Alton Plaza, a 19-building property in the Spectrum area whose one- and two-story offices total about 216,000 square feet.

It bought the Alton Plaza complex a few months ago for a reported $58 million.


Originally published on June 12, Orange County Business Journal

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